tv PBS News Hour PBS September 16, 2014 3:00pm-4:00pm PDT
captioning sponsored by macneil/lehrer productions >> woodruff: president obama pledged to send 3,000 troops and hundreds of millions of dollars to west africa to help curb the rapidly growing ebola outbreak. good evening. i'm judy woodruff. gwen ifill is on assignment. also ahead this tuesday: we travel to iowa, a state well known for presidential politics now home to one of this year's closest senate races. plus, the u.s. military's top general says he won't rule out the possibility of combat troops on the ground to fight against islamic state militants. >> if we reach the point where i
believe our advisers should accompany iraq troops on attacks against specific isil targets, i'll recommend that to the president. >> woodruff: those are some of the stories we're covering on tonight's pbs newshour. >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: >> at bae systems, our pride and dedication show in everything we do; from electronics systems to intelligence analysis and cyber- operations; from combat vehicles and weapons to the maintenance and modernization of ships, aircraft,nd critical infrastructure. knowing our work makes a difference inspires us everyday. that's bae systems. that's inspired work. >> i've been around long enough to recognize the people who are out there owning it. the ones getting involved, staying engaged. they are not afraid to question the path they're on. because the one question they
never want to ask is, "how did i end up here?" i started schwab with those people. people who want to take ownership of their investments, like they do in every other aspect of their lives. >> and the william and flora hewlett foundation, helping people build immeasurably better lives. >> and with the ongoing support of these institutions and... >> this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. >> woodruff: the united states military is joining the fight to stop the spread of ebola in africa. president obama laid out the plan today to send 3,000 troops,
amid increasingly dire forecasts of the epidemic's potential to grow even worse. >> if the outbreak is not stopped now, we could be looking at hundreds of thousands of people infected with profound political, economic security implications for all of us. >> woodruff: the president traveled to atlanta this afternoon and the u.s. centers for disease control and prevention to announce the ramped-up american effort. >> our forces are going to bring their expertise in command control, in logistics, in engineering. and our department of defense is better at that, our armed services is better at that than any organization on earth. >> woodruff: the focus is on helping overwhelmed local health care systems across west africa. under the president's plan, u.s. forces will build 17 new treatment facilities in the region, each with 100 beds. the u.s. military is also:
establishing an instruction facility to train up to 500 medical workers a week, deploying 65 officers to staff a hospital for treating health care workers and airlifting hundreds of thousands of home health kits to the affected nations. while the president laid out that plan, top federal health officials appeared at a senate hearing on the ebola threat. >> there is a window of opportunity to control the spread of this disease, but that window is closing. if we do not act now to stop ebola, we could be dealing with it for years to come, affecting larger areas of africa. ebola is currently an epidemic - the worst ebola outbreak in history. >> woodruff: in all, the virus has infected nearly 5,000 people across five countries and left more than half dead.
in geneva today, the world health organization issued a stark new warning.. >> with 5,000 now infected, twice the number when we met a couple of weeks ago. over 2,500 dead, nearly twice the number of when we met a couple of weeks ago. you start to get a sense of the rapid escalation now we're seeing of the virus at it moves from what was a linear increase in cases to now almost an exponential increase in cases. >> woodruff: the grim forecast envisions the number of cases doubling every three weeks. and from medical supplies to health worker salaries to burial costs the w.h.o estimates it will take nearly $1 billion to contain the outbreak. that's a nearly ten-fold increase from a month ago. >> the reason for that is the outbreak in last months has doubled in size. and we realize, because it's going to go on doubling in that sort of frequency if we don't deal with it, the amounts requested have increased dramatically. >> woodruff: in addition to the u.s. response, china today
dispatched a mobile laboratory and 59 medical experts to sierra leone to help speed up testing. we'll examine the president's ebola plan in detail after the news summary. in afghanistan, a taliban suicide bomber killed three nato troops in kabul. nearly 20 other soldiers and civilians were wounded. the car bomb went off near the u.s. embassy in kabul, leaving behind mangled vehicles and debris. reuters reported two of the dead were americans. the other was polish. in iraq, the u.s. military has expanded its air strikes against "islamic state" forces. planes hit targets just outside baghdad last night for the first time. iraqi military officials said today it's just the beginning. >> ( translated ): through the joint air cell between america and baghdad operations command, the american airstrikes started yesterday targeting chosen objectives in southern baghdad. the joint air cell will outline the targets.
by so doing, the airstrikes are aimed at liquidating all islamic militants in the areas nearby baghdad. >> woodruff: meanwhile, political infighting in the iraqi parliament kept two key cabinet posts in limbo. lawmakers rejected nominees for the defense and interior ministers. ukraine made a landmark deal with the european union today, shifting closer to the west and away from russia. parliament cheered ratification of that agreement, but it went behind closed doors to approve two laws that could spark opposition in ukraine. those measures are part of a peace deal that produced a cease-fire this month. they grant temporary self-rule to pro-russian regions and offer amnesty to rebels. back in this country, crews mopped up a northern california fire that wiped out part of a small town yesterday. the fire swept into weed-- near the oregon border -- and damaged or destroyed 100 homes and other buildings. today, the charred remnants
of homes and two churches were still smoldering. firefighters hosed down the blackened landscape, as residents counted their losses. >> the house up there, it can be rebuilt, it's no big deal. but this is my family church, you know? it's... much more endearing to me. >> woodruff: in all, at least a dozen fires were burning in california, fueled by severe drought. the environmental protection agency is allowing more time for comment on a major step aimed at global warming. americans will have another 45 days to address curbs on carbon dioxide emissions from coal- fired power plants. this step follows a request from 53 u.s. senators. the e.p.a said today it still expects to have final rules by next summer. congressional republicans charged today that federal safety regulators missed spotting ignition switch problems in general motors cars for seven years.
the accusation-- in a report by the house of representatives-- targeted the national highway traffic safety administration. the report also alleged the agency did not understand how air bags worked, and failed to share vital information. in economic news, nasa chose boeing and space-x to build capsules that will ferry astronauts to the space station, starting in 2017. and on wall street, the dow jones industrial average gained more than 100 points to close near 17,132. the nasdaq rose almost 34 points to close above 4,552. and the s&p 500 added nearly 15 points, to finish just under 1,999. still to come on the newshour: how effective will new u.s. aid be in the fight against ebola? the military won't rule out the use of american troops to battle the "islamic state" group, turbulence in the middle east causes thousands of refugees to
make the perilous journey across the mediterranean sea, we travel to iowa for a look at one of the nation's closest senate races, how to transform the way we teach educators in the u.s. and the 17-year-old pakistani activist malala yousafzai answers american teens' questions about education. >> woodruff: let's dive deeper now into the president's plan to ramp up the response to the ebola outbreak and to try preventing a "humanitarian catastrophe." it comes amid prior criticism of the administration-- along with the w.h.o and of other countries-- for not doing more and for not getting it done faster. we turn back to two who have been closely watching this and speaking with government officials in recent days. laurie garrett of the council on foreign relations and has
written widely about ebola, including the books, "betrayal of trust" and "the coming plague" and lawrence gostin of georgetown university. he's the director of the o'neil institute for national and global health law. we welcome both of you back to the program. laurie garrett, to you first. what is your assessment of the president's plan that he outlined today? >> well, it's a bold step forward. i'm delighted it's actually taking place, but i think everything depends on the haste with which we can mobilize. and i am aphrase a lot of people don't understand that committing troops and saying we're going to build a hospital are all very good steps, but it takes weeks to execute these things, and in the meantime, the epidemic is doubling every 10 to 20 days. we don't have a lot of time. we're racing against a clock. >> woodruff: lawrence gostin, do you have the same concerns?
what's your assessment? >> i think laurie is right about timing. i am very proud of my country. we have stepped forward when no one else would or could, but there are major unanswered questions. it's not just time, but also command and control. there's chaos on the ground. it's uncoordinated. i was very pleased to see the president say that we have a command post, but how are we going to command chinese or cuban workers? i do think we need a u.n. security council resolution to have the kind of international legitimacy we need. >> woodruff: so going beyond what the u.s.... >> yes, the u.s. can't do it alone. >> woodruff: let me go further with what the u.s. is doing. you said you're proud of your country. what specifically will make the most difference here? >> i think the most difference will be training the health workers and building health facilities in the community, contact tracing, all of those things are very important. >> woodruff: meaning going back and finding out...
>> going back, finding out who has been in contact with whom and quickly isolating them in safe conditions. one of the big problems, though, is that even once we have built these treatment facilities, it's going to be handed over eventually to the ministry of health in liberia, and they just don't have the health workers, the doctors and the nurses have been decimated. we really do have a huge infrastructure task. >> woodruff: laurie garrett, you laid out your concerns, but of what has been announced, how do you see this unfolding and making any difference? >> well, first of all, we don't have any commercial flights landing in the area now. and so just getting doctors on the ground, getting medical supplies, keeping stocks in place of such simple things as latex gloves to protect you from infection have all proven daunting in the absence of real solidarity from neighboring countries and the willingness to have planes land and commercial
flights. so one huge role for the u.s. military is going to be helping ghana, which has kindly and generally is agreed to be the air bridge for all supplies and human movement into the area, to extend their runway, build their airport up, have logistic and supply operations in place and then to have smaller flights go from ghana into specific targeted areas carrying supplies with them as needed. but larry points out a crucial problem with all of. this we don't have a central command, which means we don't even have a centralized list of what's needed. who needs latex gloves where? is the swear more dire in this country in cerro sierra leone on this county in liberia? where do we need to deploy people first? we don't have that kind of operation in place, and our u.s. military is not going to play that role. we will have a central command, but it will be commanding u.s.
military personnel, not people from other countries and certainly mott the liberians themselves. and we also see that the response is not a regional one. we are unfortunately dividing our response according to kind of old colonial ties. so the french are focusing on guinea, which used to be a french colony. the united kingdom is focused on sierra leone, which is settled by the decent dependents of british slaves, who came from the caribbean, and we're focused on liberia, which is settled by former american slaves. so there's a sort of distasteful neo-cleanal feel -- neo-colonial feel to things, and that means responses are very divided by country, so you've heard of 165 cuban responders and 59 chinese. they're all going to sierra leone where they will be under we don't know what kind of command, loosely coordinated by
the sierra leone government. >> woodruff: lawrence gostin, this sounds like a complicated effort, which we knew, but it sounds even more complicated listening to the two of you. what about the timing? how long will it take to make a difference to get to the people who need treatment and who are not receiving it? >> first of all, we are very late to the game. the fire has nearly burned the house down and we've arrived. the cavalry has arrived. it will take a long time i think to build the kind of facilities that we want. the whole idea, for example, that we're sending 500,000 home kits suggests that we can't get people into hospitals quick enough to treat them and isolate them, and people who... >> woodruff: these are self-testing kits? >> these are self-testing kits or self-protecting kits. i'm not sure the community will know what to do with them when they get them. this is a makeshift response to
a huge humanitarian crisis. i don't think it had to come to this, but now that we're there, i'm really grad the see the united states military involved. >> woodruff: so laurie garrett, should we be pleased that this is happening or more worried because it's not the holistic response that i heard you describing that's necessary? >> look, i'm delighted, like larry, to see my country step up to the plate and play a role, and i'm hoping that we can save lots and lots and lots of lives and bring this epidemic under control, but i agree completely. we're late to the game. and if you just do the math, based on the statement made today by who, a doubling time every ten to 21 days, and you take the number of actually identified and suspected cases existing now and do your math, you can see that if we can't get a response on the ground
immediately, effectively across the region, we will be looking at a quarter of a million cases by thanksgiving, and 400,000 by christmas if this is not abated and brought under control. then we're talking about something equivalent to the black death's impact on tuscany and florence in 1346. >> woodruff: sobering. sobering any which way you look at it. we appreciate both of you joining us, laurie garrett, lawrence gostin. thank you. >> woodruff: one country in west africa that has had relative success in controlling the deadly virus so far is nigeria. while the nation has had 21 confirmed and suspected cases of the virus, including seven deaths, it has not had an explosive surge and spread since its first ebola victim was reported in late july. our special correspondent fred de sam lazaro is on assignment in lagos and checked in with us earlier today.
>> nigeria is africa's most populace country. it has the largest economy on the continent and its commercial capital, lagos, has 20 million inhabitant, all of which have raised concerns that an ebola outbreak would be catastrophic, but that hasn't happened, in part due to an early break and in large part due the a good public health response, experts say. the virus was first brought the nigeria by a liberian traveler who fell ill at the airport and in a peculiar twist of fate, medical doctors were on strike when he was taken in for health care. that exposed far fewer health workers to the virus, and health care workers have been especially hard hit during this epidemic. they've contracted the virus and they've passed it on to their patients. despite its reputation for chaos and dysfunction, nigeria has launched a very sophisticated response to ebola. everyone entering the country, including this reporter when we arrived yesterday at the airport, is screened for any
symptoms. those with an elevated fever, for example, are taken in for secondary screening to make sure it's not related to ebola. so the call center where people can report suspected cases and a concerted public awareness campaign that has kept fear from turning into panic and a sophisticated surveillance system has enabled this country to trace and keep track of all cases and people with whom they came into contact. all of these cases have been directly traced to that original index case of the liberian traveler. this is reassuring, but at a time when there's so much travel and when the virus is running amuck in other parts of west africa, nigeria is nowhere near being able to declare victory. a lot of fingers are still crossed tightly here. >> woodruff: we will have more of fred's reporting from nigeria in the coming days.
we turn now to iraq and syria. the obama administration's plan of attack against the islamic state group was under examination today, in the senate armed services committee. that's where the newshour's quinn bowman picks up the story. >> reporter: the hearing with the pentagon's top two officials quickly turned to a key question: whether u.s. troops will get into ground combat in iraq. president obama has repeatedly said the answer is "no". but army general martin dempsey, chair of the joint chiefs, left open the role of several hundred americans already in iraq. they're now advising iraqi and kurdish "peshmerga" forces >> if we reach the point where i believe our advisers should accompany iraqi troops on attacks against specific isil targets, i will recommend that to the president. >> reporter: dempsey elaborated under questioning from democrat jack reed of rhode island, and cited a potential operation to re-capture iraq's second-largest city.
>> if the iraqi security forces and the pesh were at some point ready to retake mosul-- a mission that i would find to be extraordinarily complex-- it could very well be part of that particular mission to provide close combat advising or accompanying for that mission. >> reporter: the general also said the president has told him to come back on a "case-by-case" basis to reevaluate the need for any u.s. ground forces. and defense secretary chuck hagel underscored the u.s. air campaign against "islamic state" -- or "isil"-- will not be limited to iraq alone. >> because isil operates freely across the iraqi-syrian border and maintains a safe haven in syria, our actions will not be restrained by a border in name only. >> reporter: there were reports today that the u.s. has warned syrian president bashar al-assad not to let his military fire on
u.s. planes conducting strikes inside syria. both hagel and dempsey detailed plans to vet, train and equip 5000 fighters a year for the "free syrian army" to confront "islamic state" forces. u.s. intelligence estimates the militants have 30,000 or more fighters. at the hearing, arizona republican john mccain asked what happens if syrian jets and helicopters attack the u.s.-and-allied trained force: >> any attack on those that we have trained who are supporting us, we will help them. >> reporter: but general dempsey drew mccain's fire when he said western-backed fighters need to focus on "islamic state" militants-- not on assad's army. >> i think what you're hearing us express is an isil-first strategy. >> you don't think that the free syrian army is going to fight against bashar assad, who has been decimating them? >> what i believe, senator, is that as we train them and develop a military chain of command linked to a political structure, that we can establish
objectives that defer that challenge into the future. we do not have to deal with it now. >> it's a fundamental misunderstanding of the entire concept and motivation of the free syrian army. >> reporter: the u.s. also got a reminder today that it may be fighting not only "islamic state" and, potentially, syrian forces, but a wider array of extremist groups. two al qaeda groups-- in the arabian peninsula, and in north africa-- issued an unusual joint appeal to rival islamist factions in iraq and syria. it urged the "islamic state" and the "al-nusra front" to unite against the u.s. coalition but at the united nations, secretary general, ban ki-moon, lent his conditional support to the effort. >> i urge the international
community, and those with the means, to act decisively and after sober reflection. it is critical to keep at the forefront the protection of civilians. >> reporter: the man who'll manage the anti-islamic state coalition, retired general john allen, was introduced at the white house today. he's the former overall commander in afghanistan. president obama has not asked congress to authorize the overall operation. but house speaker john boehner suggested that remains subject to change. >> it does not preclude us from re-visiting the issue of a broader use of military force. as you heard me say last week, i believe that it's important, frankly, for the congress to speak on this issue, and when we get to that point, we will. >> reporter: tomorrow, secretary of state john kerry outlines the coalition-building effort at another senate hearing. the president visits leaders at u.s. central command in tampa,
who'll oversee operations against "islamic state" forces. >> woodruff: the turbulence in the middle east, especially syria, has created the worst refugee crisis in decades. now, thousands of those displaced people are trying to get to europe by crossing the mediterranean sea from north africa on small boats. last week, nearly 500 refugees drowned after the smugglers they'd paid to get them from egypt to europe, intentionally rammed their boat. survivors told the international organization for migration that the collision followed a disagreement on board. in the past week alone, at least 700 refugees have drowned making the journey, many of them from syria, egypt and gaza. for more on this i'm joined by michel gabaudan, president of refugees international. he and his team have traveled to the region to address the
crisis. welcome to the program. we've known, we've had a serious refugee problem for a long time. what's making it worse now? >> well, i think people are becoming desperate. at the beginning when refugees were fleeing syria, they thought perhaps after a few months, maybe a year, they would be able to go back. there is no indication that return is possible in the foreseeable future. living conditions are becoming more difficult in the neighboring countries where they found refuge initially, and they're now trying to think of a future further away. >> woodruff: so it's syria, it's egypt? >> it's egypt. some even move out to libya because the chaos in libya has made the work of traffickers easier, if you want. >> woodruff: and they're leaving for fear of their lives or for economic circumstances? how would you describe it? >> well, i interviewed a few people in egypt a few months ago. two years ago moved to egypt from turkey or from jordan and
they came legally with a passport by airplane. they were given a hardy welcome in egypt. it was sort of brothers in arab spring, if you want. that has changed now because since the new government has been put in place, there has been a vir ewe you lent campaign against them accusing them of being mostly sympathizers. life has become much more difficult. their economies have dwindled. they sold everything to get out of the country. they don't know what to do. they don't know what the future holds for them. many have relatives in europe, and they're prepared to risk everything to offer their family a future. >> woodruff: do they know how dangerous these journeys are going to be before they make them in. >> they do. we spoke to them very frankly. we told them, you know, if you try that you are likely to drown. your women are likely to be abused. you will lose family members. you will probably not get a hardy welcome in europe. they say, "well, we have nothing
to lose." when people have nothing to lose, they try anything. >> woodruff: are there people actively trying to persuade them not to make these journeys? >> i think when they speak to officials in the u.n. or to some ngos, they're discouraged, but there is so much the international community is doing for them, which is not reaching the needs they have, in particular the future looks very bleak. >> woodruff: and are the traffickers -- we hold -- told the story of the traffickers ramming the boat, killing these refugees, are the traffickers making it harders, more dangerous? >> i think the traffickers are about money. if they don't get the returns they want, they don't care. this is a very crude business. more and more people are trying the leave. in principle you would think it's better business. they want to make the same margins. they have no consideration of these people. they seem them as chattel. we see that in the way they
overload the boats and the total lack of care. they send people in unseaworthy boats. they don't care. if some people drown, they have more. >> woodruff: what is the solution? >> there are different solutions. i think the high commission for refugees have called for a variety of solutions that would include resettlement for those who have been recognized as refugees for humanitarian visas. family ramifications. perhaps student or work visas. there is a whole range of solutions that can be offered to at least a percentage of refugees and give them some hope. so far he has not been heard very much, and europe remains very closed to their plight. >> you're working to try to change the minds of the countries the refugees are going to to get them to accept them or what? >> well, we have worked mostly to try to make sure there was enough assistance getting to the countries hosting them in jordan, lebanon, turkey, egypt,
and to make sure enough humanitarian aid was there so that the governments would be able to maintain the borders open. that was our first priority. make sure people escape syria and will not be turned back by neighboring countries. now i think we're going to the next step as we see that the situation is not getting better in syria, these people are not going to go back any time soon and the pressure in neighboring countries is unacceptable. in lebanon, one in four persons is a syrian refugee. imagine which other country would have tolerated that? none i can tell you. >> you have your work cut out for you. michele gabaudan, president of refugees international, thank you very money. >> thank you. >> woodruff: a quick look at the calendar reminds us that today is just seven weeks away from this year's mid-term elections, when voters across the country will be deciding ballot issues and choosing state and local
office holders and members of congress. with control of the u.s. senate up for grabs, i headed to iowa this past weekend, the site of one of the closest contests in the nation. if you love college football, the place to be in iowa this past weekend was iowa city, the home of the university of iowa hawkeyes, as they hosted the iowa state cyclones. the beer flowed freely, and over 100,000 exuberant fans jostled, ready to cheer or jeer at the slightest provocation. it's the biggest and oldest rivalry in this state, and it played out as another, newer rivalry is reaching a full boil: the contest for the open u.s. senate seat here being vacated by 30-year democratic veteran tom harkin. it's a battle between four-term democratic congressman bruce braley and joni ernst, until
just a few months ago a little- known republican state senator from a town of just over 5,000 who splashed onto the political scene earlier this year with a t.v. ad touting her experience growing up on an iowa farm: >> i'm joni ernst. i grew up castrating hogs on an iowa farm. so when i get to washington, i'll know how to cut pork. >> woodruff: another t.v. spot stressed how comfortable the national guard lieutenant colonel, who served in iraq, is shooting a gun. >> joni doesn't miss much. >> woodruff: all this endeared her to conservative voters, who catapulted her to an impressive 56% win in a field of five republicans. since her primary victory in early june, however, she has put less emphasis on her strong anti-abortion and gun rights views, and re-worded the slogan on her website: "mother, soldier, conservative," to "mother, soldier independent leader."
ernst herself, an iowa state grad who said she was staying neutral on this big game day, downplays the change in tone. >> well, it's a different challenge, but what we have to do is compare and contrast between myself and the congressman, and i stand for iowa and what's good for iowans. we have done very well here as a state, and i believe our federal government needs to emulate iowa. congressman braley is part of washington, d.c. bureaucracy. it doesn't work for iowa. >> woodruff: iowa's republican governor, terry branstad, who appears to be sailing to re- election to his sixth time in that office, is campaigning hard for ernst, who's surprised democrats and pulled even with braley. did you like the castrating hogs ad? >> i loved it. i grew up on a farm, holding hogs that the veterinarian castrated as well. but that's the kind of stuff we farm kids do. working long hours. and not too many women are
lieutenant colonels in the national guard, have combat experience. so, we've never elected a woman, but i think this is a woman who can serve iowa well. >> woodruff: the selling point that iowa has never before elected a woman to congress or works with some voters, but not others: >> to me, these elections often the women are the swing voters. and i think voting for a woman would be attractive to them. >> it'd be wonderful, right, but i wouldn't vote for someone just because they're a woman. >> woodruff: some say they like her because she represents something different. >> first of all, i'd say harkin has done an acceptable job, he's done a good job. i'm not sure a candidate on his side is going to make any changes in washington, and so i would take the newcomer. >> woodruff: but there are strong opinions against her, as well, especially on stances she's taken on issues like social security, abortion and contraception. >> from a woman's perspective i don't agree with what she says.
especially with abortion and the whole no abortion with rape and incest. i don't agree with that at all. >> woodruff: the intensity the race reflects the fact this is the first time in 40 years that iowa has had a wide-open senate race, without an incumbent on the ballot. add to that the high stakes, with control of the senate in the balance. the national republican and democratic parties are leaving nothing to chance in iowa-- outside groups are pouring in millions of dollars; and the candidates are under extra pressure to perform well and energize the party faithful. high-profile republicans such as marco rubio, rand paul and sarah palin have all come to iowa to campaign for ernst. and this weekend, hillary and bill clinton showed up at senator harkin's last annual steak fry celebration to thank
him, and put in a pitch for democrat bruce braley: >> in just 50 days, iowans have a choice and a chance; a choice between the guardians of gridlock and champion of shared opportunity, and shared prosperity. a chance to elect a senator who believes women should make our own health care decisions. >> woodruff: if ernst's achilles heel is her very conservative track record, for braley, it's some controversies he's created: he seemed to denigrate iowa's other u.s. senator, charles grassley, as a farmer from iowa who never went to law school. braley apologized to grassley and says he has put the incident behind him: he bores in instead on what his campaign calls his
opponent's "out of the mainstream" views. >> my challenge in this race has always been to make sure the voters of iowa understand the clear choices in this senate race. on issues that affect iowa's economy. i voted for a five year farm bill. i worked three years and worked with republicans to pass it. she said she would have voted against it. >> woodruff: besides the farm bill, and ethanol subsidies, voters bring up social security and medicare. long-time iowa political reporter o.kay henderson says issues are at play, but in this state with a low unemployment rate, she believes the race may turn on something else: >> when it boils down to it, this is a character war right now. they're both trying to cast each other as a kind of character that you just can't trust in washington. >> woodruff: both campaigns and outside groups are contributing to the character war with spots like these: >> joni ernst would be another tea party vote in the senate.
ernst would privatize social security. >> bruce braley. trial lawyer and washington politician. supports obamacare. >> woodruff: democratic strategist jeff link insists braley's early gaffes in the campaign won't stick in voters' minds. >> i think we have had about 12 commercials that have used the clip of the grassley comment. i don't think there's a person in iowa that doesn't know about it. i hope they understand that he has a strong commitment to iowa agriculture. that's why the iowa corn growers endorsed him and we are still in the position that we are where she is viewed more unfavorably than he is. >> woodruff: braley's campaign is making sure of that with spots of its own: >> i just don't trust joni ernst. >> she supports a plan to eliminate medicare's guaranteed benefit. >> woodruff: republican strategist david kochel, who's advising the ernst campaign, insists the negative spots braley has aired against her, won't have the desired effect:
>> her views are very much in the mainstream of iowa. yes, she's pro-life, but many iowans are pro-life. it's not the issue she is primarily focused on. any time you have $10 million in negative ads spent against you, it's going to make a little more difficult. but we're going to have-- we've been outspent by $2.2 million since the primary. i don't think it will be this way for the rest of the campaign. >> woodruff: kochel is overseeing an advertising strategy that pivots ernst's message away from her most conservative views to more moderate ones. >> i care about protecting social security for seniors like my mom and dad. >> woodruff: but democrats are betting they can overwhelm what they call ernst's centrist shift, by reminding voters of her long-held right wing positions. retiring senator tom harkin, who's raising money and campaigning hard for braley, says he's counting on iowans wanting to keep a balance in their senate representation: >> senator grassley and i don't agree philosophically.
we don't agree on big issues. we don't vote alike on a lot of national issues. but when it comes to iowa, we work together. so i think iowans have benefited from that kind of balance. if joni ernst wins, that balance gets upset. if bruce braley's there, then they keep that balance of republicans and democrats. >> woodruff: but feeling republicans breathing down their necks, democrats are doubling down on this year's get out the vote effort, which starts in just nine days, with the opening of absentee voting. >> woodruff: next, what can be done to improve the quality of teaching? an annual poll out today by gallup and phi delta kappa finds that majorities of americans believe teacher preparation should be more rigorous. there was also support for stronger certification requirements and evaluations,
more training and practice time for teaching candidates, and opposition to using student test results to evaluate teachers. a new book explores what better teaching may look like. jeffrey brown has our conversation. >> brown: the inspirational teacher, she or he is the stuff of movies and stories and if we're very lucky the individual in a classroom who turns on to a given subject or even a lifetime of learning. but in an age of reformers pushing teacher accountability and unions demanding teacher autonomy, a new book titled "building a better teacher" argues that one thing we don't spend enough time on is how teaching actually works and how teachers themselves should be taught. author elizabeth green is co-founder and editor-in-chief of a non-profit education news organization. welcome to you. >> thank you. >> brown: "building a better teacher," one thing you're trying to do is get rid of the pitt of the natural-born
teacher. >> yes, yes. we assume there's good teachers and bad teachers, and what we need to do is get more of the good ones and fewer of the bad ones, but the reality is that teaching well is a skill and it requires a lot of craft, knowledge and specialized ability that goes beyond just knowing a subject really well. >> brown: why is at that not obvious? why is our system set up in a way that doesn't sort of value or think that way? >> i think there's a lot of reasons. one of them is that we haven't devoted any energy to studying teaching. the education schools study almost anything but pedagogy, anything but the craft of teaching because it's just undervalued in our society. so as a result, we know... we haven't known historically very much about what we should be preparing teachers to do. >> brown: so you focus on a lot of the teaching of path. give autopsy example of how it's done poorly. >> yeah, i think that too often what teachers are doing is they
don't anticipate what students are going to... the mistakes students are going to have. they just try to have answer-getting strategies. that treats math and other subjects as if they don't really make sense. but what really skilled teachers learn to do is anticipate how are students going to miss understand, not just what's the right answer, but how would a student get a wrong answer and how can i reverse engineer that and help them find a path to the right answer, so they really understand that math should make sense, and every subject should make sense. >> brown: you cite models in japan, which actually pick up on some work that was done here in the u.s., right? but this is a different system here in the u.s. what would need to be done to change the teaching and creation of teachers? >> yes, so what japan did successfully that we didn't is they took up ideas that work and great individual classroom models and they were able to take them to scale, a whole
country. they succeeded because they teichmanning as a craft and a public act that should be studied, so thousands of teachers will come to see one teacher teach in japan, and they will then discuss the lesson afterward like you would dissect a great act of surgery or a film. in the u.s. we treat teaching as a private act. >> brown: we devalue teaching period, right, whether it comes to wages or just value as a profession? >> yes. i think the fact we think about teaching as something that's physical work, not cognitive work, is part of that undervaluing, but it is really very cognitively demanding. >> what did you find from teachers themselves as you went around and talked to them in terms of their sense of how well prepared they are, their fears because they don't feel prepared, et cetera? >> yeah, teachers definitely do not enter the classroom feeling that they're prepared. most teachers will tell you that their teacher training institution did not leave them
feeling prepared. then they do know that they don't have the time and support they need to learn to teach, so just an example, a group of teachers that i have met with in new york city had a study group, and it was not unlike what teachers have in japan. they have study groups where they have subject-specific, so a bunch of history teachers or a bunch of path teachers will meet and share their lesson plans. there is one big difference. in japan the teachers had sanctioned time in their schedule to go watch each other teach. a crucial piece. in the u.s., when i asked them, do you have any... have you ever seen each other teach, they laughed, like they would never have time to do that. they're doing this in their off hours. so just the structure of the u.s. education system holds back what teachers know that they need. >> brown: is there any possibility of changing that structure because that would require, what, more... hiring more teachers i would assume to give them more time. >> actually, i don't think it would require more resources.
i think it would require a changing of culture and a changing of allocation. so we spend -- the best estimate that i've seen is $9 billion a year on professional development for teachers, like training during the school year. it's just that it's not effective training. it doesn't focus on practices that teachers really need in the classroom. there are innovative programs that are doing this differently, and that truly 25-year veterans enter these programs and say everything changed. >> brown: do we need to make it harder to be a teacher? >> i think there's been a lot of focus on raising the bar before hand, like let's get the best and brightest, and certainly it's important to focus on recruiting talented, passionate people to education, but we have 3.7 million teachers in this country, so that alone cannot be enough. in fact, the programs that only focused on recruiting ivy league students into the classroom, like teach for america, have really learned that they need to focus on training, too.
it's not enough just to be really bright. you have to learn how students think. you have to learn how to teach them. and that's different than being good in school yourself. >> all right. the new book is "building a better teacher." elizabeth green, thank you. >> thank you. >> woodruff: finally tonight, a different take on education. it comes from malala yousafzai, the 17-year-old pakistani activist who was shot in the head by the taliban for advocating girls' education. she has since become an international figure and her story has inspired children all over the world. we invited our student reporting labs to submit questions for malala and when she visited new york recently, hari sreenivasan put them to her. >> sreenivasan: malala yousafzai first we're going to have you listen and react to some reporter questions. student reporting labs has generated these questions out in the field.
>> hi. my name is emily. my question for you is when do you think your battle for education for all will finally be won? >> sreenivasan: she says when will your battle for education for all be won. you have a simple dream. when will that be accomplished? >> well, dreams do come true and in our history we have seen that 100 years ago women did not have the right to vote, but now they're able to vote and they have achieved this right. long ago people were struggling for the rights of black people, so that they can vote as well and they are respected in society. and it's getting better every day and now we see that there were dreams in the past and now they are becoming a reality. so i'm hopeful that the dreams which i have now to see every child going to school to see equal rights for women i think soon in future if you struggle if you work hard then i see those dreams becoming a reality. >> sreenivasan: here's jeff love of the philip's academy. >> malala, why did you continue to speak out for women's education, even though you knew
you could be killed? >> it's a very good question. so when i was in swat valley at that time there were more than 400 schools destroyed and women were flogged because we're not allowed to go to school. and at that time i had really two options. one was to remain silent and wait to be killed and then the second was to speak up and then be killed. and i chose the second one because i did not want to face the terrorism forever, and i wanted to come out of the terrible situation and i wanted to go to school. it was my love for education that encouraged me to continue the campaign. so, i think in hard times we need to raise up our voice otherwise we will have to live in that terrible situation forever. >> sreenivasan: okay, i also asked on my facebook page and on my twitter feed, and so i'm going to get to some of those questions as well. so, several people asked how can people in the united states from this distance support education in a country like pakistan effectively? >> when it comes to the developing countries i think you can do advocacy for that, you can ask the responsible people and now social media can be used
for this good purpose and i know it's good like sometimes if you ask, if you put a selfie on facebook or twitter or instagram, but it's also good that you use it for the good purpose of raising awareness for doing advocacy and of highlighting the issues that children are facing but as well if you donate to organizations and to the foundations who are working on the ground and who need your support. and even if you like give a dollar it can really bring a big change in the life of those children who are waiting for someone to help them. >> sreenivasan: how do you convince say a government or an aid agency to say you know these 300,000 kids you need to give them some instruction and education right now because otherwise you are going to have a lost generation that could come back in a much, much more horrible way. i mean they are still in many places in the refugee camps are tent cities. they still don't necessarily have steady food or steady shelter or water. i mean how do you convince a
family that it's really important to make sure your kids spend some time learning today? >> the first thing is that when we do advocacy and when i do advocacy i do not speak for my side, but i speak on the behalf of those children. on the behalf of those parents who are suffering so many problems. so when i went to nigeria for the campaign to make sure and to ask the government that the girls who are kidnapped and who are abducted by boko haram more than 200 girls that they are released as soon as possible. before asking the president, i met some parents and i met some girls who escaped from the abduction. and they were crying and all they were asking was they want their daughters to come back home. and the girls they still do not get any education, no one is supporting them, they do not even get like health facilities, so i ask the president that i'm raising the voices of these people and the raising the voice of those parents who want their daughters to come back and raising the voice of those girls
who now need support and help. and the president then promised me that he would meet the parents and the girls, and he did right at the next week and i went on my 17th birthday so i was really happy that i spent my birthday in a place where there are so many children out of school. 10.5 million children out of school. it's only about the primary level, but i was happy that the parents and the girls' voices were heard, so i had a very nice birthday. >> sreenivasan: so, i know you don't have a cell phone because that would actually make you more busy and distract you, so what do you as a teenager? i mean you are a 17-year-old woman growing up in the u.k. when you are not-- this is your summer break and you are doing press interviews all over the world. how do you relax? >> oh well sometimes i play cricket and i play badminton. i also listen to music sometimes, and then i have an ipad, i don't have a phone, but
i do have an ipad and i watch the news, i read some articles to be updated because it's important for me. i also fight with my brothers, so that's a good way to be busy. >> sreenivasan: okay, malala yousafazi, thanks so much for your time. >> yeah, thank you so much. nice to talk to you. >> woodruff: again, the major developments of the day: president obama laid out plans for 3,000 american troops to fight the ebola outbreak in west africa and the nation's top military office, general martin dempsey, told congress he'll recommend using u.s. combat troops in iraq if it's needed against "islamic state" forces. later, the white house said again that president obama will not take that step. on the newshour online right now, artist pat brentano's palette is nature itself, using large-scale cutouts of trees and birds, she sets her designs against the backdrop of the
great outdoors, all in an effort to inspire environmental responsibility and awareness. watch a video of her work, on art beat. all that and more is on our web site, newshour.pbs.org. and that's the newshour for tonight. i'm judy woodruff we'll see you online and again here tomorrow evening. for all of us here at the pbs newshour, thank you and good night. on wednesday, we'll talk with ken burns about his new documentary, "the roosevelts: an intimate portrait," airing this week on p.b.s. >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: ♪ ♪ moving our economy for 160 years. bnsf, the engine that connects us.
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